Boost for weavers

By Ashutosh Mishra
Published: Friday 31 July 2009

Orissa schools and colleges to buy handloom fabric

cotton and silk fabrics from the handlooms of Orissa are prized across the country for their fine weaves but most weavers in the state earn very little. To improve their income, the state's department of handloom and textiles is planning to promote their fabrics for making school and college uniforms.

"We want to better the lot of the 400,000 plus weavers. Uniforms for school and college students from handloom fabrics would be a big help," said Anjali Behera, the state's minister for handloom and textiles. The ministry is also planning to push for uniforms made from handloom fabrics for anganwadi workers and accredited social health activists.

At present, only a few colleges in west and north Orissa, including the ones in the textile belt of Bargarh, are making uniforms from locally woven fabrics."Thirteen such colleges purchased fabric worth Rs 9 lakh last year," said L N Nayak, director of textiles. The proposal will be discussed in a meeting with weavers' groups at the end of the month," said Nayak.

If implemented, the proposal could increase sales of handloom fabrics by Rs 12 crore, said Dasrath Nanda, deputy director textiles.

Handloom directorate officials said the annual turnover of the handloom sector is about Rs 100 crore and needed to be increased by exploring new sales options. Handloom fabrics are currently marketed by Sambalpuri Bastralaya and Boyanika co-operatives that have a chain of outlets in and outside the state. Weavers also sell their products at exhibitions. But this is not enough to support the average weaver who earns about Rs 3,500 a month.

Of the 1,262 societies, only 529 are active and 597 are facing liquidation.

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